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Joachim Rieck
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SUNDAY SERMON @ EASTSIDE ( 12/02) A good relationship with God and people is inherent to the teaching of the Bible. It is at the heart of the 10 commandments and it is reaffirmed by Jesus in Mark 12:30,31: “Love God … love your neighbour…”.

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In our passage we now have an opportunity to discover diaconal ministry in action. We have here a case study of vulnerable people in the church – widows. Note, the principle can be applied to all types of vulnerable people in the church. In this case it is the widow. If a woman loses her husband, who is given to her by God as a protector, she becomes vulnerable. This is true today and in biblical times this was especially so, and therefore much is said in the Bible about the protection about vulnerable people. Strangers or foreigners , orphans and widows were classified as vulnerable. God has a heart for the vulnerable. James has a specific word on this matter: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction…” [James 1:27]. In Psalm 68:5 God is called “the Father of the fatherless and protector of widows”.[1]This is what made the early church act like she did in Acts 6:1-7. God measures the spiritual temperature of a society and of the church by the way they care for the vulnerable. It all flows out of the law of God which in summary says: ”You shall love the Lord your God…. You shall love your neighbour”. [2]

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God gives leadership gifts to the church (Eph. 4:11). We believe that Frans Brits has been called of God to the pastoral ministry. He has previously testified to the inward call from God to this service. Prior to his ordination as an elder in 2014, He went through a two year internship period as an apprentice elder. Following this, God has opened up a door for him by granting his family permanent residence in our country! Now he was free to pursue the work and burden that has been laid upon him by the Lord. Whilst he was working as an acoustic technician, it was consistently clear to his employers that this would be a temporary arrangement. Frans Brits was trained as a theologian at the University of Pretoria. Now he is being trained in the work of a pastor in the context of the local church. Somebody once asked an old pastor: “How long does it take to train a pastor?” He said, “A life-time”!

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Jeremiah 33:3 contains an important assurance in the midst of chaos and confusion, when our world lies upside down and when truth lies slain in the streets, and when the true church, the city of God on earth is hardly visible in the community, because her members are dispersed and exiled due to their sin …. This is an assurance by His own Word, that God has not forgotten the people of His covenant, the true children of Abraham, comprised of both, believing Jews and believing Gentiles. The firmness and the certainty of God’s covenant is expressed in 33: 19-26, and again, it comes in in two separate statements, emphasising and re-emphasising the covenantal faithfulness of God.

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SUNDAY SERMON 15/01/2017: So, yes, God has driven His people into these foreign lands, because of their sin. But that is not the final word on the matter. God sent His people into Babylon for a while to preserve them there. The same has happened when God sent His people to Egypt for a little while. The Lord Jesus and His parents needed to hide there for a little while from the wrath of Herod, so that the Scripture says, “Out of Egypt have I called my Son.” [Matt.2:15] Suddenly, the LORD brings His people back. God promises here that He will gather them and bring them back to their land and to Himself.
All this is linked to God's final Word ... the eternal covenant , a covenant that goes far beyond the promise of the restoration of an earthly Jerusalem and and earthly land !

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I am thinking of a number of reasons for preaching from the book of Jeremiah during this month of prayer at Eastside Baptist Church and in preparation for 2017. Here are some...

1. Jeremiah gives perspective and encouragement in spiritually challenging times, and we need such insight today.
2. There are a number of wonderful texts and promises in Jeremiah, such as this one in verse 11,12 which are quoted easily out of context. We do not want to minimize the joy and comfort that this texts brings, but we do want to use them thoughtfully and responsibly, combining the text with our own situation, as the Word of God is applicable to all ages.
3. We find ourselves at the beginning of a new year. The future is always daunting, and we always need to trust the LORD for that which is to come. As for myself, I am commencing my 28th year with you. My desire, as always, is to enter into this year thoughtfully and prayerfully, knowing myself to be in the hands of a Sovereign God who knows what He is doing. May the message of Jeremiah contribute to that understanding.

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SUNDAY SERMON : 18/12/2016 A situation had arisen in which Asaph, the Psalmist had become discontent with his position as a believer before God. Learn from this Psalm how your perplexity concerning some of the unusual providences of God in your life, may not become a snare to your soul!

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The Christmas season is upon us ! How should thoughtful Christians think about Christmas? Some have coined the market driven form of Christmas 'the silly season', but to us who love Christ this is an excellent moment to prepare ourselves for a truly Christ centered Christmas.

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1 Timothy 5:17-25 : This passage includes further information concerning church pastors and elders. Paul provides insight concerning the remuneration of those pastors that serve well. He also tells us what to do with pastors that do not serve well. Pastors have to be carefully chosen. Spiritually unqualified pastors can become a real snare to the other elders and the church. Paul also reminds us that pastors/ elders need to be impartial.

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Before Philip arrived in the city of Samaria, it had been under the spell of a very different sort of power. A man named Simon had amazed all the people of Samaria because of his great magic (8:11). He was known as "the man who is the power of God that is called Great’” (8:10). But now he finds himself challenged by Philip and the Gospel of Jesus Christ which triumphed over the "lesser greater powers ".
What a privilege to be in the employment of the gospel and to see lesser authorities melt away before the gospel of Jesus Christ!
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